The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP) provides opportunities for OSHA to partner with employers, workers, associations, and organizations. These partnerships are unique agreements designed to encourage, assist, and recognize efforts to eliminate serious hazards and enhance workplace safety and health practices.
Partnering with OSHA through this unique program can be immensely beneficial for employers who want to do the right thing but need help in strengthening worker safety and health at their worksites.
Partnerships are flexible in design so that employers’ unique operational and workplace needs can be considered. Through this program OSHA seeks to create extended, voluntary, cooperative relationships with organizations.
Partnerships are established through a written, signed agreement which usually lasts three to five years. The agreement may be national, regional, or local in scope, however most OSHA Strategic Partnerships are based out of local OSHA Area or Regional Offices.
OSHA Strategic Partnerships establish specific goals, strategies, and performance measures to improve worker safety and health. After identifying the best safety goals for the organization, and developing plans for achieving those goals, there is cooperation as the new strategies are implemented.
As a direct result of the partnership, employers can see reduced injury and illness rates, lower worker’s compensation costs, and less absenteeism across the organization. Employees also benefit from a safer workplace, increased safety knowledge and skills, and improved morale.
There are many different kinds of organizations that may want to participate in the OSPP including large companies, professional or trade associations, unions, and smaller businesses. Other stakeholders may include local and state governments, state Consultation Projects, and insurance companies, which often contribute expertise and resources.
While it may seem like this program is geared towards large, national companies, in fact most often the partnership program is a best fit for small businesses averaging fewer than 50 workers.
All OSPP agreements contain core elements, which may include:
- Purpose, goals, and strategies
- Geographic boundaries
- Timeframe or term of the partnership
- Management and operational details
- Goals for worker involvement
- Effective performance measures linked to the partnership goals
- Annual evaluation responsibilities
- OSHA verification procedures
- Participant benefits
- Designation of a primary OSHA contact
Benefits offered through an OSHA Partnership are varied and are defined by the individual partnership. Benefits for partnering companies may include, but are not limited to outreach, education, technical assistance and training, best practices, and free on-site consultation services.
Partnerships rely on the combined participation of OSHA and those within the organization to leverage resources and maximize results. Employee participation is important, and examples of personnel participation include developing and offering training, conducting self-audits, serving on safety committees, and contributing to the evaluation of the partnership.
Employers do not need to have an effective safety and health system already in place before they join into a partnership with OSHA. In many cases, partners will work together to develop a successful safety management system.
Participants in the OSPP do not receive exemptions or deferrals from OSHA inspections. Participation in the partnership program does not eliminate or reduce the rights or responsibilities of employers or workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.